Most people are well aware of the dangers of drunk driving, but research shows that driving under the influence of drugs—and not just illicit ones—can be just as dangerous. Like alcohol, illegal drugs—as well as some prescription and over-the-counter medications—impair driving performance, putting the drugged driver and everyone else on the road at risk.
A drug-related car accident can leave victims seriously injured, unable to work as they struggle to recover, and facing an onslaught of unexpected medical debt. Fortunately, if you were hurt in a California car crash caused by the negligence of a drug-impaired driver, you may be entitled to compensation. A skilled personal injury attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options, and fight for a fair financial recovery. Here's what you should know if you're considering taking legal action.
Drugged Driving Statistics
It's difficult to determine just how many people drive under the influence of drugs or how many car accidents are caused by drugged drivers. This is true for a number of reasons, including that a reliable roadside drug test does not yet exist. However, here's what we do know:
- 12.6 million people admitted to having driven under the influence of illicit drugs in the past year, according to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)
- Men are more likely than women to drive under the influence of drugs
- Adults between the ages of 21 and 25 are more likely to drive after taking drugs than people between the ages of 16 and 20, or people who are age 26 or older
- In 2016, 43.6 percent of fatally injured drivers tested positive for drugs, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)
- More than half of the fatally injured drivers from the GHSA study had two or more types of drugs in their system
Common Drugs and Their Effects on Driving Performance
Many illegal, prescription, and over-the-counter drugs can have impairing effects. The following are some of the most common types of drugs associated with car accidents, as well as how they effect driving performance.
- Marijuana – slows reaction time, decreases coordination and alertness, and impairs the ability to accurately judge time and distance
- Methamphetamine and cocaine – increase aggressive and reckless driving behaviors
- Opioid – cause drowsiness and dizziness, and impair thinking and judgment
- Sedatives (such as benzodiazepines or barbiturates) – decrease alertness, and cause dizziness and drowsiness
- Over-the-counter antihistamines, antidiarrheals, and anti-emetics – cause drowsiness, decrease alertness, and slow reaction time
The effects of the opioid crisis on car accidents is particularly alarming, as studies have found that driving under the influence of these medications can double the risk of being involved in a crash.
Seeking Compensation for Injuries Caused by a Drug-Impaired Driver
If you were injured in a crash caused by a drugged driver, you may be entitled to compensation for a wide range of damages, including medical expenses, property damages, lost wages, loss of earning capacity (if you can no longer work or only able to work part time), physical pain and suffering, mental and emotional anguish, and other losses. Here's what you can do to help protect your right to a fair recovery.
- Seek immediate medical attention, even if you don't feel seriously injured, as the symptoms of some crash injuries can take hours or days to appear.
- Attend all scheduled follow-up visits with your doctor and complete your treatment plan as prescribed.
- Ensure your injuries, as well as the effects they have on your daily life, are well documented in the form of medical records and a daily journal.
- Don't accept an early insurance settlement, or provide the at-fault driver's insurer with a recorded statement about the accident or a release of your medical records without consulting an attorney.
- Talk to a knowledgeable car accident attorney as soon as possible.
Consult an Experienced Attorney About Your Car Crash Case
At the Inland Empire Law Group, our skilled injury recovery professionals help victims hurt by drugged or drunk drivers fight for and obtaining the compensation they deserve. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation to find out how we can help you with your case. Call now to get immediate help. (909) 481-0100.